UFC 200 Prelims: Julianna Pena, Kelvin Gastelum, T.J. Dillashaw All Triumphant in Las Vegas

By Brian Knapp Jul 9, 2016
Julianna Pena climbed into a new tax bracket in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight division.

“The Ultimate Fighter 18” winner overcame some early adversity to claim a unanimous decision over former two-division Ring of Fire champion Cat Zingano at UFC 200 “Tate vs. Nunes” on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Pena (8-2, 4-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 29-28 nods from all three judges.

Zingano (9-2, 2-2 UFC) -- in her first fight since a 14-second submission loss to Ronda Rousey in February 2015 -- controlled the first five minutes with takedowns, top control and ground-and-pound. Pena was undeterred. She flipped the switch in round two, where she reversed a takedown, advanced to Zingano’s back, set her hooks and fished for the rear-naked choke. Though her bid failed, momentum was hers. She picked up where she left off in the third round, executing a takedown inside the first 10 seconds before hammering away at Zingano with ground-and-pound and again shifting to her back.

Pena will carry a four-fight winning streak into her next appearance.

Related » UFC 200 Round-by-Round Scoring

Gastelum Stymies Reeling Hendricks

Stifling forward pressure and heavy punching combinations carried “The Ultimate Fighter” 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum to a unanimous verdict over former champion Johny Hendricks in their three-round undercard duel at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges sided with Gastelum (12-2, 7-2 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.

Hendricks (17-5, 12-5 UFC), who missed weight for the match, struggled to answer the Kings MMA representative’s output and pace. Gastelum belted him with multi-punch combinations, many of them punctuated by ringing straight and overhand lefts. Hendricks tried to alter the complexion of the fight in the second round, easily his best stretch of action, but too often wound up in a backpedal eating punches from the talented Arizonan.

The 32-year-old Hendricks, once the consensus No. 1 welterweight in the world, has lost four of his past six bouts.

Dillashaw Avenges Assuncao Loss

Elevation Fight Team cornerstone T.J. Dillashaw avenged an October 2013 defeat to Raphael Assuncao, as he cruised to a three-round unanimous decision in their preliminary bantamweight confrontation. Dillashaw (13-3, 9-3 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 30-27 marks from the judges, perhaps locking down a rematch with reigning UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

Assuncao (23-5, 7-2 UFC) held his own in the standup exchanges but lacked the speed and skill necessary to deal with the former titleholder’s footwork and movement. Dillashaw picked apart the Brazilian from the outside, integrating kicks to the legs, body and head with two-, three- and four-punch combinations. By the time the second and third rounds arrived, Assuncao was bleeding heavily from the nose and mouth. Dillashaw put an exclamation point on his fifth victory in six outings, as he landed a tactical takedown in the final minute.

The setback snapped a seven-fight winning streak for Assuncao, who was in the cage for the first time since October 2014.

Northcutt Escapes Marin Upset Bid

Hyped prospect Sage Northcutt rebounded from his first professional defeat with a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” Season 2 finalist Enrique Marin in a three-round affair at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Northcutt (8-1, 3-1 UFC).

Marin (8-4, 0-2 UFC) made life difficult for the 20-year-old Texan. He nearly submitted Northcutt twice in the second round, first with an armbar and then a kimura. Both attempts failed. Even so, Marin was in position to spring the upset in round three but lost his way while trying to secure a takedown. Northcutt sliced open the Brazilian with defensive elbows, moved into top position and spent the final 30 seconds on top piling up points with ground-and-pound.

Lauzon Mauls Sanchez in 86 Seconds

Joe Lauzon became just the second fighter -- B.J. Penn was the other -- to finish the notoriously durable Diego Sanchez, as he took care of “The Ultimate Fighter 1” winner with first-round punches in a preliminary lightweight encounter. Sanchez (26-9, 15-9 UFC) met his end 1:26 into round one.

Not long after their initial exchanges on the feet, Lauzon (26-11, 13-8 UFC) sat down the Jackson-Wink MMA export with a clubbing left hand and swarmed with punches. He refused to allow Sanchez time to breathe, much less recover, as he continued to fire away with punches to the head. One final burst sent the Sanchez mouthpiece flying and necessitated the stoppage.

It was the Lauzon’s 12th finish inside the Octagon, moving him into fifth place on the promotion’s all-time list behind Vitor Belfort (14), Anderson Silva (14), Matt Hughes (13) and Frank Mir (13).

Mousasi Blows Away Santos

Former Dream and Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi cut down Thiago Santos with first-round punches in their undercard scrap at 185 pounds. A replacement for the injured Derek Brunson, Santos (13-4, 5-3 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:32 into round one.

Mousasi (39-6-2, 6-3 UFC) pestered his counterpart with a jab, mixed in occasional leg kicks and then turned up the heat. “The Dreamcatcher” ripped into Santos with right uppercuts, the volley driving him to all fours. Mousasi later executed a takedown, moved into side control and applied his ground-and-pound while attempting to improve his position. He stood out of the Tata Fight Team rep’s guard and blasted Santos with another uppercut as the Brazilian was rising to his feet. The impact sent Santos crashing back to the canvas, where Mousasi met him with follow-up punches and prompted referee Marc Goddard to act.

The 30-year-old Mousasi has rattled off nine wins across his past 12 appearances.

Miller Dismisses Shopworn Gomi

Jim Miller disposed of former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Takanori Gomi with first-round punches in a preliminary lightweight clash. Miller (26-8, 15-7 UFC) brought it to a close 2:18 into round one, putting an end to a two-fight losing streak.

Gomi (35-12, 4-7 UFC) wandered into danger inside the first minute. Miller drove him to the canvas behind a stinging straight left, quickly moved to the back and threatened with a kimura before shifting his attention to the rear-naked choke. Gomi defended well but rolled to his stomach in an effort to escape. Miller flattened out the Japanese star and let loose with unanswered punches for the finish.

The 37-year-old Gomi has lost three in a row for the first time in his 47-fight career.


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